The Tampa Bay Rays needed to return to the Rays way – pitching and defense – as they attempted to draw even at a game apiece in their best of five American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox. Instead they delivered another late season dose of frustration in falling to the Boston Red Sox by a final score of 7-4.
On Monday the Rays return to Tropicana Field for the first time since defeating the Baltimore Orioles on September 20th. The Rays will send Alex Cobb to the mound in a must win elimination game and he will be matched up against Clay Buchholz.
The Rays needed a quality innings from David Price a day after they only received 4.1 innings from Matt Moore. They needed their defense to turn balls in play into outs unlike yesterday when fly balls landed for doubles, groundballs turned into infield hits, and strikeouts turned into a man on base and a prolonged inning.
After scoring two early runs yesterday the Rays offense was held scoreless over the final four frames. They needed to pressure Red Sox pitching and take advantage of their opportunities.
The offense began a disturbing trend in the top of the first inning. David DeJesus led off the game with a walk and advanced to 2nd on a James Loney 1-out single but the rally was thwarted as Evan Longoria bounced into a double play to end the inning. It would be just the first of three double plays the Rays would hit into.
The Rays defense once again uncharacteristically gave up an extra base to allow the Red Sox to score their first run. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to lead off the game and attempted to steal second. Jose Molina‘s throw sailed into center field and Ellsbury moved to 3rd base. Ellsbury had to hold as Shane Victorino was retired on a ground out to Evan Longoria but came in to score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Dustin Pedroia. David Oritz put an exclamation mark on the inning with a solo home run to put the Red Sox up 2-0.
The Rays came back to put up a single run in the top of the 2nd. Ben Zobrist walked to lead off the inning, moved to 3rd on a Desmond Jennings single, and came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Delmon Young. With two out in the inning Desmond Jennings stole 2nd base but was stranded as Jose Molina struck out.
David Price was unable to settle into a groove and the Red Sox plated two more runs in the bottom of the third and a single run in the bottom of the fourth.
David Price couldn’t keep the Red Sox off the board in the bottom of the fifth as he allowed the Red Sox to add a run to push their lead to 6-3.
The Rays cut the lead to 6-4 in the top of the 6th on a 1-out Yunel Escobar RBI single. With Jose Molina due up Joe Maddon went to his bench and called upon Matt Joyce to pinch hit for Jose Molina. John Farrell responded by calling on left hander Craig Breslow to replace John Lackey.
The move worked in the Red Sox favor as Breslow retired Joyce on a fly ball to center. Sean Rodriguez came in to pinch hit for David DeJesus and Farrell stuck with his lefty who retired Rodriguez on a ground out to short.
Breslow remained in the game to work the 7th inning and the Rays mounted against him. After retiring Wil Myers to lead off the inning he hit James Loney with a pitch and walked Evan Longoria but the inning came to an end as Ben Zobrist grounded into a double play.
The frustration of the double play ball struck the Rays again in the top of the 8th off Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa who allowed a 1-out single to Delmon Young but Yunel Escobar followed by hitting into an inning ending double play.
David Price came out to face David Ortiz to begin the bottom of the 8th inning and Ortiz sent his second home run of the evening to the seats in right to give the Sox a 7-4 lead.